Chronicles of America 

New Colonies From Old

Through the portal of Boston at one time or another passed all or nearly all those who were to found additional colonies in New England; and from that portal, willingly or unwillingly, men and women journeyed north, south, and west, searching for favorable locations, buying land of the Indians, and laying the groundwork for permanent homes and organized communities. In this way were begun the colonies of Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Haven, and New Hampshire, each of which sprang in part from the desire for separate religious and political life and in part from the migratory instinct which has always characterized the Englishman in his effort to find a home and a means of livelihood. Sometimes individuals wandered alone or in groups of two or three, but more frequently covenanted companies of men and women of like minds moved across the face of the land, followed Indian trails, or voyaged by water along the coast and up the rivers, usually remaining where they first found satisfaction, but often, in new combinations, taking up the burden of their journeying and moving on, a second, a third, and even a fourth time in search of homes. Abraham Pierson and his flock migrated four times in thirty years, seeking a place where they might find rest under a government according to God.

The frontier Puritan was neither docile nor easily satisfied. He was restless, opinionated, and eager to assert himself and his convictions. The controversies among the elect regarding doctrines and morals often became so heated that complete separation was the only remedy; and wherever there was a migrating leader followers were sure to be found. Hence, despite the dangers from cold, famine, the Indian, and the wilderness, the men of New England were constantly shifting in these earlier years as one motive or another urged them on. Land was plentiful, and, as a rule, easily obtained; opportunities for trade presented themselves to any one who would seek them; and the freedom of earth and sky and of nature unspoiled offered an ideal environment for be punished by civil authority, distressing to their consciences. They drew up a plantation covenant, promising to subject themselves "in active or passive obedience to all such orders or agreements" as might be made for the public good in an orderly way by the majority vote of the masters of families, "incorporated together into a town fellowship," but "only in civill things." Thus did the men of Providence put into practice their doctrine of a church separable from the state, and of a political order in which there were no magistrates, no elders exercising civil as well as spiritual authority, and no restraint on soul liberty.

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